Archive for November, 2012

JULIAN ASSANGE OF WIKILEAKS ‘HAS CHRONIC LUNG CONDITION’

November 30, 2012

London Telegraph on November 29, 2012, reported that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is suffering from “chronic lung condition” exacerbated by his cramped living conditions, according to Ecuador’s ambassador to the UK. Excerpts below:

Ecuador’s ambassador to the UK Ana Alban said she intends to appeal to the Home Office for Assange to be granted safe passage to medical services following his illness.

He currently requires constant medical attention at his refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, she told reporters during a visit to Quito.

Ms Alban said Ecuador is covering Assange’s medical costs, but fears his condition could get worse over the winter because he has limited access to sunlight and fresh air.

IRAN HAS SIMULATED NUCLEAR EXPLOSIVES

November 29, 2012

Washington Times on November 27, 2012, published an AP report that Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, according to a diagram obtained by The Associated Press. Excerpts below:

The diagram was leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program to bolster their arguments that Iran’s nuclear research must be halted before it produces a weapon. The officials provided the diagram only on condition that they and their country not be named.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog — reported last year that it had obtained diagrams indicating that Iran was calculating the “nuclear explosive yield” of potential weapons.

The diagram seen by the AP shows a bell curve with variables of time in micro-seconds, and power and energy in kilotons — the traditional measurement of the energy output, and hence the destructive power of nuclear weapons.

The curve peaks at just above 50 kilotons at around 2 microseconds, reflecting the full force of the weapon being modeled.

The bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima during World War II, in comparison, had a force of about 15 kilotons. Modern nuclear weapons have yields hundreds of times higher than that.

Iran’s critics fear it could use the enriched uranium for military purposes.

Such concerns grew this month when the IAEA said Iran is poised to double its output of higher-enriched uranium at its fortified underground facility — a development that could put Tehran within months of being able to make the core of a nuclear warhead.

In reporting on the existence of the diagrams last year, the IAEA said it had obtained them from two member nations that it did not identify.

Other diplomats have said that Israel and the United States — the countries most concerned about Iran’s nuclear program — have supplied the bulk of intelligence being used by the IAEA in its investigation.

“The application of such studies to anything other than a nuclear explosive is unclear to the agency,” the IAEA said at the time.

US DECLINES TO LABEL CHINA A CURRENCY MANIPULATOR

November 28, 2012

Fox News on November 27, 2012, publishaed an AP report on the Obama administration declining to label China a currency manipulator, noting that it has let the yuan rise nearly 10 percent in value against the dollar since June 2010. Excerpts below:

The decision came in a twice-a-year Treasury report on whether any other nations are manipulating their currencies to gain trade advantages. Despite its decision, the administration said the yuan remains “significantly undervalued,” and it urged China to make further progress.

U.S. manufacturers contend that China is manipulating its currency to gain a trade advantage. A weaker yuan makes Chinese goods cheaper for American consumers and U.S. goods more expensive in China.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had vowed during the campaign to brand China a currency manipulator if he won the White House.

The Treasury is required to report its findings on currency manipulation to Congress semiannually.

Former spokesmen for Romney had no immediate comment on the administration’s decision. But Sen. Charles Schumer, a longtime Democratic Party critic of China’s trade policies, criticized it.

“This report all but admits China’s currency is being manipulated but stops short of saying so explicitly,” Schumer said in a statement. “It’s time for the Obama administration to rip off the Band-aid and force China to play by the same rules as all other nations.”

Treasury said the yuan remains significantly undervalued. It vowed to keep pressing Beijing to let the currency rise further to “level the playing field for American workers and businesses and support a strong, sustainable and balanced global economy.”

The U.S. trade deficit with China reached $29.1 billion in September. It is running 6.8 percent ahead of last year’s record pace. It has long been the largest U.S. trade gap with any one country.

US NAVY SECRETARY AND CHINA’S DEFENSE MINISTER DISCUSS SEA SECURITY IN PACIFIC

November 27, 2012

Fox News on November 27, 2012, published an AP report on China saying its defense minister and the U.S. Navy secretary have discussed security at sea and steps to bolster the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Excerpts below:

The visit by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus comes days after China began landing planes on its sole aircraft carrier, displaying rapid progress toward deploying the ultimate symbol of naval power.

China has criticized the U.S.’s moves in the Pacific as part of a campaign to encircle and contain China, while its moves to assert its claims in the South China Sea and off its east coast have unnerved its neighbors.

ISRAELI SATELLITES REPORT IRANIAN WEAPONS SHIP BOUND FOR GAZA

November 26, 2012

Fox News on November 25, 2012, reported that Israeli spy satellites have spotted an Iranian ship being stockpiled with weapons that is suspected to be headed toward the volatile Gaza region. Excerpts below:

The shipment was prepared last week on the day that Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire, according to Haaretz, citing a report from the Sunday Times of London.

“We believe that Iranian warships anchored in Eritrea will accompany the weapons ship as soon as it enters the Red Sea,” an Israeli source told the newspaper.

The shipment may have Fajr-5 rockets, the type that Hamas fired at Israel, and other missiles that could be positioned in Sudan.

The ship is expected to travel through the Red Sea…

PLA’S GROWING POWER IN CHINA AND A MORE AGGRESSIVE FOREIGN POLICY TO COME

November 25, 2012

The Washington Times on November 22, 2012, reported on a China being at a crossroads in an article by Brahma Chellaney. The next decade under the new leadership of Xi Jinping could decisively shape the country’s trajectory. Excerpts below:

Power transition rarely has occurred without bloodshed and chaos in Chinese history. From the first Shang dynasty, political change is usually violent, with force also being employed to retain power. Chinese analyst Xiao Han has called this the “ax gang” tradition — the ax has been the symbol of power since ancient times. In modern times, as Mao Zedong once famously said, “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

The People’s Republic of China…has pursued endless domestic witch hunts and political purges. Mao and Deng Xiaoping between them got rid of at least five anointed successors who were discarded abruptly, or died mysteriously or under detention.

Power in China today may not flow from the barrel of a gun to the extent it did under Mao— who was responsible for the deaths of countless millions — but it is significant that Mr. Xi has risen to the top with close military ties and support. In fact, what sets Mr. Xi apart from China’s other civilian leaders is his strong relationship with the military, which regards him as its own man.

As Mr. Xi rose through the Communist Party ranks, he forged close ties with the military as a reservist, assuming leadership of a provincial garrison and serving as a senior aide to the defense minister. His wife, Peng Liyuan, is also linked to the military, having served as a civilian member of the army’s musical troupe.

The real winner from the appointment of the conservative-dominated, seven-member Politburo Standing Committee is the military, whose rising clout in policy already has created an increasingly assertive China.

The rise of a new dynasty of “princelings,” or sons of revolutionary heroes who have widespread contacts in the military, is another indicator that nationalism and militarism likely will strengthen in China.

These developments have important internal and external implications. Internally, with several reformers losing out to old conservatives in the power struggle for top positions, prospects for major reforms look bleak.

Dictatorship is one thing that is not open to reform. In any event, China’s corrupt, faction-ridden political culture and bloody history are conducive not to political reform but to political revolution.

China’s internal politics helps shape its external policy. The stronger the military has become at the expense of the civilian leadership…, the more muscular Beijing’s approach has been toward its neighbors. Stepped-up internal repression and aggressive external moves to change the territorial status quo in China’s favor are two sides of the same coin.

China’s future is likely to be determined not by its hugely successful economy, which has turned the country into a global player in just one generation, but by its murky politics and the growing sway of the People’s Liberation Army.

In this light, China’s neighbors and the U.S. military would be wise to brace themselves to face a less restrained China championing ever-expanding “core interests.”

Brahma Chellaney is a professor at the independent Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and author of “Asian Juggernaut: The Rise of China, India, and Japan” (HarperCollins, 2010).

WHAT IF IRAN HAD NUKES?

November 24, 2012

National Review in an article by Clifford D. May on November 22, 2012, reflects on the latest Gaza clashes if Iran had had nuclear weapons. Excerpts below:

Israel — as its friends and enemies never forget — is a “one-bomb country.” One nuclear weapon is all it would take to wipe out a nation whose territory is smaller than Djibouti, with a population not as large as that of Burundi — fewer than 8 million people, 20 percent of them Arabs who are enjoying rights denied to Arabs…elsewhere in the Middle East.

Israel is surrounded by Muslim-majority states with 60 times its population and 650 times its territory. Most of those states refuse even to recognize Israel.

Hamas’s Charter is not more moderate: “Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them).” Israel is a vital link in what the Charter calls “the chain of Jihad.”

Both Israel’s friends and its enemies are keenly aware that this is the backdrop against which Hamas launches its missiles. Many others choose to be oblivious. So you constantly hear journalists suggesting that the missiles that Hamas has been raining down on Israel from Gaza are merely a form of “resistance” to Israeli “occupation”

Hamas does not seek a two-state solution or any other compromise. No one who embraces the ideology of jihadism can.

Hamas commanders understand that when they wage war — and that’s what missile attacks are — and when they commit war crimes — and that’s what missiles aimed at civilians are — repercussions will follow. Israel takes great pains to spare non-combatants, but Hamas routinely uses Palestinian women and children as human shields. That, too, is a war crime.

Recently, despite Israeli efforts to block deliveries of advanced weaponry (while simultaneously facilitating the flow of humanitarian aid), Hamas received an estimated 100 Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles — longer-range weapons that can threaten not just Israeli villages near Gaza but more than half Israel’s population.

If Iran’s jihadist rulers acquire nuclear weapons, will they use them in support of Hamas? Might they transfer one or two directly to Hamas, or perhaps to Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy which has thousands of missiles in southern Lebanon aimed at Israel? Would Jerusalem, the holiest city for Jews and Christians, be a target? My answer to all these questions: Why not?

Hamas is serious about wanting to resolve the situation — but not through a peace process. It prefers a process that leads to victory, which means Israel’s extermination or, failing that, what it calls “martyrdom.” Iran’s rulers share those aspirations. Both Israel’s friends and enemies get that. Many others choose to be oblivious.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security.

DESPITE CEASEFIRE, MISSILES STILL THREAT TO ISRAEL

November 23, 2012

In a commentary by Mortimer B. Zuckerman Washington Times on November 21, 2012, warned that Gaza is a tragedy in three dimensions. Excerpts below:

Innocent people die. The stalemate on a West Bank agreement hardens. World attention is diverted from the crimes of the Assad regime in Syria and Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon.

There is not the slightest shadow of a doubt who is to blame. It is Hamas, the Islamist terrorist organization beholden to its paymasters in Tehran. Hamas is dedicated by its charter to the destruction of Israel.…

The ceasefire that was negotiated is welcome. They are always welcome. But this ceasefire does not solve the fundamental problem: that the influx of thousands of rockets into Gaza, supplied primarily by Iran, constitutes and remains an existential threat to Israel.

TERROR ATTACK ON TEL AVIV BUS INJURES 23 PEOPLE

November 21, 2012

Jerusalem Post on November 21, 2012, reported that a bus had exploded on Tel Aviv’s Shaul Hamelech Street, of 23 injured, one seriously, one moderately wounded; police confirm explosion was a terror attack, are searching for additional suspects, explosives. Excerpts below:

Terrorists blew up a bus on Tel Aviv’s Shaul Hamelech Street around noon Wednesday.

A total of 23 people were injured the attack, according to police.

None were in a life threatening condition, though two have been taken into surgery, the hospital spokesperson said.

Police confirmed that the explosion was a terrorist attack, although said it did not appear to be a suicide bombing and thus police were searching the area for additional explosive devises.

Police arrested a suspect near the Ramat Gan diamond exchange, but he was later found not to be connected to the attack. Police believe at least one terrorist may still be at large in the area, armed with explosives.

Tel Aviv police had added additional officers in the city before this attack due to heightened state of alert in place in light of the IDF operation in Gaza and rocket attacks in recent days, Tel Aviv police chief Yoel Ohayon said at the scene of the terror attack.

While it appeared the bomb was left on the bus and not the result of a suicide bombing, Ohayon said that at this point in time, “it is very difficult to say exactly what happened.”

Palestinian media reports said the Fatah-linked Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade took responsibility for the attack, although that was unconfirmed.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri praised the bombing, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

The attack came on the eighth day of IDF Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip, which has seen hundreds of rockets fired into Israel, including four in the Tel Aviv area.

ISRAELI ARMY DROPS WARNING LEAFLETS ON GAZA

November 21, 2012

The Washington Post on November 15, 2012, reported that as part of its aggressive social media public relations campaign, the Israeli Defense Force’s twitter account is blasting out statements and infographics about Israel’s right to defend itself. Excerpts below:

The account has now started mixing in messages about Israel’s attempt to mitigate casualties in Gaza by delivering leaflets urging Palestinians to stay away from Hamas facilities that may be targeted.

As part of effort to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza, IDF dropped 1000s of leaflets in Arabic with the following message in Arabic:

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE RESIDENTS OF THE GAZA STRIP

For your own safety, take responsibility for yourselves and avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives and facilities and those of other terror organizations that pose a risk to your safety.

Hamas is once again dragging the region to violence and bloodshed. The IDF is determined to defend the residents of the State of Israel. Is announcement is valid until quiet is restored to the region.

ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES

The leaflets blame Hamas for the violence and warns citizens to stay away from Hamas facilities. In Gaza, Israeli jets and drones hit dozens of targets overnight. Three Israelis have been killed by rocket fire from Gaza.

The IDF also released a video of the leaflet drop.